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Grant Shapps had issued a request for a proposal to the current Northern operator, Arriva Rail North and to the Operator of Last Resort as the first phase of securing options. This was triggered by concern over the financial position of ARN.
Grant Shapps has also confirmed that using the most recent financial information that the Northern franchise will only be able to continue for a number of months.
The proposal that Grant Shapps has requested is being evaluated. After this process, the transport secretary will decide whether to award a short term contract to Arriva Rail North or ask the DfT’s Operator of Last Resort to step into operate passenger services.
Longer-term decisions on the franchise will be made from recommendations of the Williams Rail Review.
Grant Shapps has said he will announce his decision before the end of January 2020.
The current financial position of the Northern franchise will not impact on the railway’s day-to-day operations. Services will continue to run and there will be no impact on staff.
What did they say?
The Transport Secretary has said that
Passengers in the north have had to put up with unacceptable services for too long. We understand how frustrating this has been for people and we are taking action to make sure that performance improves.
Chris Burchell, Arriva’s Managing Director of UK Trains said:
“We accept services on the Northern network are not yet good enough and we sincerely apologise to our customers for our role in that.
“Many of the issues affecting the franchise however are outside the direct control of Northern. Assumptions were given when the plan for the franchise was developed that critical infrastructure projects would be delivered to enable growth and support capacity demands. Many of these have either been delayed or cancelled. This, along with unprecedented levels of strike action, has had a significant impact on the franchise – both in terms of service and financial performance.
“These challenges will continue to affect services irrespective of who is running them. What is needed is a new plan, and, in that analysis, we are fully in agreement with Government. That is why the Government asked us to prepare a business plan for a shorter ‘Direct Award’.
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This article first appeared on www.railadvent.co.uk
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